“They are men on a mission. The Rastrelli Cello Quartet aims to traverse all genres.”
Four celli, four gentlemen – that’s all it takes, as the Rastrelli Cello Quartet has proven time and again for the past twenty years. To celebrate their anniversary, the ensemble devotes its latest CD entirely to their own original works. And those are just as colorful as the four musicians’ diverse repertoire – which can only be described as limitless.
When four cellists make music together, they encounter a significant problem: the repertoire for this instrumentation is rather small. The Rastrelli Cello Quartet has tried to make the best out of this situation by adapting every kind of musical piece imaginable, ranging from works by Bach and Tchaikovsky to those by Brubeck and even The Beatles. Twenty years of playing on stage together has not tired out this formation. They continue to rapture audiences with new musical discoveries. Of course, during the last two decades, a lot of new repertoire has been created, and this is why the quartet decided to indulge in something special: a CD filled entirely with their own works.
RASTRELLI EFFECT includes pieces which have been written over the last few years. In these pieces, every musician has sought to find their own voice. At the same time, the works are the result of mutual collegial
support and the constant exchange of ideas based on the tastes and preferences of all members of the ensemble. They always include the particular sense of humor of the Rastrellis, an important marker of the four musicians.
It all started with the desire to share the music that each musician was hearing within themselves with others – at first with colleagues, now with their audience. The result is great evidence for the fact that music serves as the most sensitive communicative device among humans. “This is why we dare to present our listeners with such an eclectic collection of music. May they find as much enjoyment in it as we do!”
Even though the quartet constists of four celli, it sounds like a classic string quartet at times. The virtuosic play of these four musicians knows no stylistic boundaries and is celebrated across the globe. The four gentlemen first got together as the Rastrelli Cello Quartet in 2002, which is when they began devoting themselves to the communal exploration and experience of their instrument’s sound worlds. The quartet is named after Bartholomeo Rastrelli, an architect from the 18th century who was active in St. Petersburg, the musical home of this ensemble. Rastrelli left his mark on the city’s architecture like no other. For many years, the ensemble has been calling Germany their home.
Almost the entirety of Rastrelli’s repertoire consists of arrangements by Sergio Drabkins, who has been a member of the quartet since its inception. His refined, clever compositions lead the quartet, under the artistic direction of the charismatic virtuoso Kira Kraftzoff, through individual, sublime, and often surprising musical landscapes. Each one of the four gentlemen bring their individual characters, experiences, and views into the equation. Two former students of the artistic director, Misch Degtjareff and Kirill Timofeev, also share in the responsibility for the quartet’s continued success since 2002.
The Rastrellis only play music which they love dearly, and which consists of arrangements widely ranging in style, from chamber music to orchestral classical music, to standards of cello literature and pop music, jazz, klezmer, or tango. This art of metamorphosis becomes an authentic adventure of sound for the listeners. While there are always four celli playing, sometimes it sounds like an old piano playing ragtime, or like a saxophone from Glenn Miller’s orchestra, or Piazzolla’s bandoneon. The Rastrelli Cello Quartet has recorded eight CDs to date. Two of their albums were created with clarinettist Giora Feidman, with whom the quartet has been collabora-ting for many years.
Since its founding, the quartet has been a guest at festival stages, in concert halls and broadcasting studios. Among these venues are the Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam, the Berliner Philharmonie, the Mariinsky Theater St. Petersburg, Lincoln Center New York, Beethoven Festival Bonn, Beauvais Cello Festival (France), Rheingau Musik Festival, Oberstdorfer Musical Summer, Meadowlark Music Festival in Lincoln/Nebraska (USA), European Music Festival Sofia (Bulgaria), Boswiler Summer Festival (Switzerland), Ohrid Summer Music Festival (Macedonia), Linköping Music Festival (Sweden), Schleswig Holstein Musik Festival, Rio International Cello Encounter Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and the Bucharest Sonoro Festival (Romania).